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Denver Broncos vs. Minnesota Vikings: Inside the Series


The Denver Broncos travel to Mall of America Field this weekend to play the Minnesota Vikings in their 13th matchup all-time.

The Vikings lead the all-time series at 7-5, but the Broncos won the most recent matchup in 2007 by an overtime score of 22-19. Denver hasn’t played in Minnesota since the 2003 season when the Vikings won 28-20.

From a Denver perspective, the most memorable game played in this series was during the 1996 season when the Broncos won 21-17 in Minnesota. This was the game where John Elway threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ed McCaffrey with 19 seconds left to win it.  That alone would make for a wild and memorable finish, but what makes this one stand out was how that touchdown was completed. The following passage was taken from an Associated Press article published on November 25, 1996:

“I’ve seen a Hail Mary, but this wasn’t a Hail Mary,” said Bronco defensive end Alfred Williams. “I guess it was a short version of the Hail Mary.”

On third and two from the five, Elway was looking for Shannon Sharpe in the end zone and forced a pass over the middle. Safety Harlon Barnett batted it into the air, and it looked like an easy interception as Barnett and fellow safety Orlando Thomas were the only ones around the ball.

But the ball got tipped again as they both went to catch it and this time McCaffrey, who said he didn’t see it get tipped, ended up with the ball in his arms and he fell into the end zone for the winning score.

“The ball was in the air about 20 seconds,” Elway said, “and I was just screaming at it to get on the ground. And all of a sudden this white jersey came out of nowhere, and it was Eddie McCaffrey and he got in the end zone.”

McCaffrey’s miracle gave Denver (11-1) its eighth consecutive victory, matching the second-longest streak in franchise history.

Elway–27 for 36 for 334 yards–was 10 for 13 for 144 yards in the fourth quarter. The game-winning drive was vintage Elway.

The Series

Minnesota Leads Overall Series, 7-5:

1972—Vikings, 23-20 (Denver)

1978—Vikings, 12-9 (Minny) OT

1981—Broncos, 19-17 (Denver)

1984—Broncos, 42-21 (Denver)

1987—Vikings, 34-27 (Minny)

1990—Vikings, 27-22 (Minny)

1991—Broncos, 13-6 (Minny)

1993—Vikings, 26-23 (Denver)

1996—Broncos, 21-17 (Minny)

1999—Vikings, 23-20 (Denver)

2003—Vikings, 28-20 (Minny)

2007—Broncos, 22-19 (Denver) OT

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